Why 'Baroque Purls'?

I just made the switch from my old Instagram handle @amyvdlaar (an abbreviation of my name) to @baroquepurls, which I’ve been using on Ravelry for years. Now that I’m using Instagram as much as Ravelry, I decided it was high time my names on my two favourite sites matched, so that people can find and recognise me more easily. And I realised that while I’m at it, I should probably explain why I originally chose the name!

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New pattern: Folia Crescent

The first pattern in my new La Folia Collection is out! It's a sweet, simple one-skein shawl called Folia Crescent. This one was very quick to knit, straightforward and not requiring much attention after the first repeat or two. Watching the lace emerge kept things interesting, and of course knitting with such beautiful yarn is always a pleasure.

Features:

  • a leafy lace panel surrounded by squishy garter stitch
  • easy-to-wear crescent shape
  • a garter-tab cast on and an i-cord bind off
  • suitable for beginner lace knitters
  • stitch markers keep track of the lace section so you don't have to
  • a one skein project in fingering-weight yarn
  • perfect for that precious single skein of sock yarn
  • one size, easily enlarged by working extra repeats
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

I used one skein of Merri Creek Sock yarn from local dyer and colour genius Miss Click Clack. The colour is called 'Ambergris', and it's an absolutely stunning glowing gold. The beauty of a small (6 row) lace repeat in this shawl is that you can keep knitting and use up almost all of your yarn. I'd recommend putting a lifeline in first before doing extra repeats, just in case!

The remaining two patterns in the collection, a drapy cowl and a large triangular shawl, will be released in mid-September and late September, respectively. They feature the same leafy lace and garter stitch combo, put together in different ways to suit the different shapes of the cowl and shawl.

You can see all the details and download the pattern via Ravelry or Loveknitting. An ebook with all three La Folia patterns is also available - the cowl and triangular shawl patterns will be added to the ebook as they are released.


I chose the name La Folia for this collection partly because folia means 'leaves' in Latin (just right for a botanical lace design), and because it's the name of a famous musical form based on a standard bass line. You can read about the history of the Folia bass line here, and find the sheet music for various versions here.

More than 150 composers have used variations on the La Folia theme in their music, including Corelli, Vivaldi, Marais, J.S. Bach, Handel, Liszt, and  Rachmaninoff. There are all kinds of riches to be found by searching for 'La Folia' on Youtube! Here are a few that stood out to me.

A performance of Vivaldi's variations on "La Follia" (RV 63) with Baroque dancers:

A Folia in the Spanish style performed by the viola da gamba player Jordi Savall:

And the Australian group Latitude 37 recording their own set of variations on La Folia:

New pattern: Amarilli

I have something especially pretty to share with you today! This floaty, lacy shawl is Amarilli, part of the Wool People 10 collection and my second design published in collaboration with Brooklyn Tweed.

You can see the whole collection in the beautiful Lookbook. As well as a few more lace scarves and shawls, there are some very cosy-looking cabled jerseys (I especially love Marylebone).

Below are a couple of backyard photos of Amarilli, which we took late last year before sending it off to Brooklyn Tweed. I've been keeping this one a secret for quite a while!

Amarilli is knit in Brooklyn Tweed's new laceweight yarn, Plains. It's a laceweight with a lot of character and springiness, which gives a slightly rustic feel to the shawl. I used the colour 'Ranier', a calm blue-grey-with-a-hint-of-green that reminds me of lichen.

My starting point for this design was a 'bell lace' pattern from one of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries. I charted it out, tweaked it to fit a triangular shape, and added a border in keeping with the lace pattern. The design difficulty was in making the edges and border of the shape work with the stitch pattern - it took me a while to find a tidy and elegant solution!

Features:

  • all-over floral lace pattern which becomes nicely intuitive
  • knit and purl stitches only on wrong-side rows
  • top-down triangular construction with garter-tab cast on
  • requires 2 skeins of Plains by Brooklyn Tweed (or 750yds of laceweight yarn)
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid colourways
  • one size: 60" wingspan, 30" along spine
  • both charted and written instructions.

I named this shawl Amarilli because the lace motifs look like flowering bulbs - think amaryllis, lily, or crocus - but I also had a famous early Baroque song in mind, 'Amarilli, mia bella' by Giulio Caccini (published in Le Nuove Musiche, 1602). It's a very common song for young sopranos to learn - if you know someone who has had formal singing lessons, chances are they know it!

You can hear the song here:

And here is a different take on it, a much more decorated version published by Johann Nauwach in 1623:


You can purchase the pattern for the Amarilli shawl from Ravelry, or from the Brooklyn Tweed website.

It's Bach season!

It's March, and for those of us in choir-land that means the countdown to Holy Week has begun. As well as our St John Passion performance on Good Friday, my choir at the Scots' Church is doing a few Bach cantatas spaced throughout the year. We did one last Sunday - the first half of BWV 147, 'Hertz und Mund und Tat und Leben' - and it was really lovely to sing. The opening chorus was fast and exciting with its trumpet solos, and the final chorale was just beautiful. Definitely worth getting up at 7am on a Sunday. ;)

There's a video of us singing & playing the final chorale here on Facebook, courtesy of our organist Ria. The tune is best known as "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" - you might recognise it when you hear it. I remember coming across a piano arrangement at Nana's house many years ago and playing it on the dodgy old piano...

This is a video of the whole cantata, performed by The Sixteen:

I'm glad it won't be my first time singing the St John Passion this year, there aren't many weeks left now to brush up on my German (not to mention all of the notes). I'm also glad we have more than one special rehearsal scheduled this time in addition to the Sunday morning run-throughs.

One of my favourite Bach interpreters, John Butt and his Dunedin Consort, have recorded a liturgical reconstruction of the St John Passion. Here's a short intro video with some rehearsal clips:

After filling my head with all of this music, I'm going to be super-primed for a very, very exciting trip... This April I'll be heading off on my first trip to Europe with Willie and Julian! I really can't believe it's actually happening. We'll start with a visit to Berlin where Chloe and Celena live, and spend three weeks exploring a few different cities including Florence, Rome, and Amsterdam, with short stops in Leipzig and Munich. It was incredibly hard to narrow down our list of places to visit, but I prioritised the places with the art and architecture I most want to see (as a consequence of my years of studying music and art history and Latin).

In Leipzig I plan to visit the Bach Museum, the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, a museum of musical instruments, and a music bookshop. And hopefully a coffeehouse or two!

More on the trip later. For now I need to work on my German and Italian (both beginner-level, alas) and do some more plotting and planning...

Exquisite Threads (Part II)

(Continued from Part I)

The samplers were one of the most interesting parts of the NGV's historical embroidery exhibition. They were displayed in a table-height cabinet with seats so people can take their time examining them. They're very much a display of skill and invention, as well as part of an embroiderer's education - the fine detail in them was seriously impressive, especially as some were made by children! Just mind-boggling.

I've included some close-ups as well as photos of the whole samplers.
Click to enlarge...












The lacy background is made of teeny-tiny patterns of holes!